I was honored to be the featured author last week on the Reading is our Satisfaction blog. I was able to take part in a question and answer session, and I thought I would share it for anyone who missed out.
Tell us about yourself. Something that others may not know. People might be surprised to find out that besides being a writer, I’m also a singer. Music has always been one of my passions, but due to stage fright, I rarely perform in front of an audience.
Why writing? Was it such a strong pull to write that you couldn’t ignore it? Writing has always been a part of me. I discovered at an early age that I was much better at writing than I was at speaking. Stories were always unfolding in my head, and I enjoyed the process of seeing them come to life on paper.
What tactics/strategies do you employ when you write? A lot of my work happens in my head long before I ever write a word. I’m a good mixture of both planned and impromptu methods. I always start with a chapter by chapter outline, but it changes drastically as the characters take over the story.
Do your characters hijack your stories or do you hold the reins tight and lead them? My characters are 100% in charge of their own destinies. I like to describe it this way- there is a movie playing in my head and I’m simply putting words to that movie onto paper. I’m telling my readers the story that the characters are whispering in my ear.
What is the toughest criticism that you have faced as an author? What did you do with it? The toughest thing I’ve encountered as an author is probably the reaction I get when I tell people that I write romance novels. There is the initial eye roll, and the assumption that my books are fluff. It’s amazing to me that the general public actually has no idea how difficult it is to write a romance novel. A lot of work goes into making the characters real and compelling, and making sure the plot is solid. It’s really the same as any other genre of writing. It takes skill to do it well, and I think romance writers have to battle a bit of stigma. The best way that I know to handle it is to encourage people to read one of my books. They quickly discover that there’s a lot more to one of my novels than just fluff.
What is the greatest pleasure you have received from your writing? The greatest pleasure I’ve received from my writing is probably the positive reviews and emails I’ve enjoyed from my readers. There is really no greater feeling than hearing that my words have touched someone’s heart.
What has you experience been like as an Indie Author? Bruises, Highlights and lessons? Overall, I think my experience has been a positive one. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with two amazing publishers who have been wonderfully supportive of me and my visions for my stories. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that writing the story is the easy part of this gig. The hard part comes after the book is finished, when it’s time to market and promote. Those things do not come naturally to me, so that has been the most difficult hurdle.
What is something memorable that you have heard from your readers? Something that made you think? I think the most memorable comments come from the readers who have told me how my characters and books have touched their lives. Being able to make an impact on someone, even in a small way, is a big deal to me.
Of all the characters that you have written, who is your favorite? Why? I think my favorite character that I’ve written would have to be Hope West from Always Hope. Hope suffers from anxiety, and so do I. I think that I put a lot of myself and my feelings into her character, so she’s very close to my heart.
Can you tell me about your latest book and why it is a MUST READ? My latest book, Love At First Crepe, is coming out in July, and I think it’s a must read because the main character, Willow Simpson, is a quirky heroine that readers are going to fall in love with. The book is a Humorous Romantic Mystery, and this is the first time I’ve written anything funny. I was shocked when Willow’s voice started whispering into my ear and she made me laugh. None of my characters have made me laugh before, so she took me by surprise. Her witty banter and sarcasm will have you rooting for her happy ending. She says the things that you only wish you could say to people. Willow’s cat, Omelet, is quite the character as well, and you are certain to be a fan of the frisky feline.
Where is your favorite place to write? My favorite place to write is at home, at my desk. I also do a lot of writing in my car, while I’m waiting for my daughters at dance classes.
Finally, if you could have written any book in history, what book would you have liked to have written? Why? If I could have written any book in history, it would have been the Anne of Green Gables series. Anyone who knows me will say that they are my all-time favorite books. I felt an immediate kinship with Anne when I read it the first time as a little girl, and they are the books that inspired me to become a writer.